How Psychological Traits Drive Buying Decisions

In last week’s blog post, I argued that personality traits can be conceived of as “chronic motivations”, and that such a conceptualization shows how they can be used to uncover the true motivations behind consumer behavior. This week I’m going to expand upon this theme by arguing that there are, at least, two general pathways for such motivations to be realized, and make some suggestions on how to tell the two apart.


Posted by Kyle Thomas on Mar 19, 2013

Consumer Behavior Nonconscious Motivations Research Traits and Scales Psychology and Marketing Motivation Surveys Research Methods


Survey Research: 5 Blog Posts You May Have Missed

We know you’re busy and we want to make your life a little bit easier by launching our weekly list of posts you may have missed. This list will include our favorite links from lesser known blogs that contributed valuable content or insight, based on a specific topic related to psychology, brand personality, and consumer behavior.


Posted by Angela Bray on Mar 14, 2013

Psychology and Marketing Motivation Surveys Brand Personality Research Methods


The Subjectivity of Focus Groups and Ink Blot Tests

Companies need to understand how people see their products and what they want, so asking customers about this in a focus group seems like a great idea. Focus groups can provide a valuable form of qualitative research, giving companies insight into consumers’ beliefs, desires, and attitudes surrounding a product. However, while focus groups can provide some insight, the history of projective tests (aka ink blot tests) in psychology offer a cautionary tale on solely relying on this kind of self-reported qualitative data.

Beginning in the early 20th century psychologists and psychiatrists developed projective tests to diagnose mental disorders and gain access to patients’ unconscious beliefs and desires. These tests, based on Freud’s theory of projection, were thought to allow unconscious beliefs and desires to surface through their open-ended structure, which was believed to be less threatening to people. In a projective test, someone is shown a set of ambiguous or abstract images that can be interpreted in many ways (the most famous example is the Rorschach ink blots, commonly portrayed in psychological examinations in movies), and they are asked to talk about what they see and what the images make them think of. It was believed that people will project their subconscious thoughts (desires, beliefs, etc.) onto the image, thereby revealing hidden parts of their personality that could then be analyzed and interpreted by the psychiatrist administering the test.


Posted by Madeline Ford on Feb 26, 2013

personality psychology Consumer Behavior Nonconscious Motivations Research Traits and Scales Psychology and Marketing Motivation Surveys Research Methods



Focus Groups: Why People Behave Differently When They Are Being Watched

Imagine you have been tasked with increasing revenue for an “honor system” coffee donation in your office. A collection box has been placed next to the shiny new caffeine machine and everyone is told to donate at least 50 cents whenever they help themselves, and more if they feel inclined. While this may seem impossible (who’s going to pay more if they don’t have to?!) there’s a tried and true way of ensuring consistent payment without hiring a barista: stick subtle eyespots (images of eyes, or eye shaped designs) on the machine. In an elegant study by Bateson et. al. 2006, this potentially silly-sounding method led people to donate three times more to the pot than their coworkers who were exposed to a coffee machine without the eyespots. This study fits into a growing body of research trying to unravel exactly what effects implicit cues have on behavior. An implicit cue is simply something we are not aware of which can then have an effect on behavior (the output). For instance, the eyespots in the above example were an implicit cue which made the subjects feel as though they were being watched, thereby altering their behavior, leading them to act in a more altruistic manner. When marketing research firms conduct focus groups, dozens of implicit cues (for example. the neighborhood the site is in, the furniture in the room, how the other participants are dressed, etc.) may affect people’s behavior and responses. While many of these can be controlled, research suggests that the “feeling of being watched” can have far-reaching effects that bias the results of the focus group.


Posted by Madeline Ford on Feb 19, 2013

Consumer Behavior Customer Segmentation Nonconscious Motivations Research Traits and Scales Psychology and Marketing Motivation Surveys Research Methods


5 Tips for Creating Engaging Surveys

Creating a survey can be a grueling task. Worse, far too many surveys result in inaccurate or inconclusive data, leaving a team with little added knowledge or understanding. Years of conducting research experiments has taught us important lessons to increase respondent accuracy. While there are many enhancements that can be made to a survey, the most important is increasing engagement. More engaging surveys lead to more willing participants, reliable and valid answers and ultimately cost-effective surveying tools. Here are 5 simple tips to create more engaging surveys: 


Posted by Kieffer Thomas on Jan 24, 2013

personality psychology quizzes Nonconscious Motivations Research Traits and Scales Psychology and Marketing Motivation Surveys

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